New York Issues First Licenses to 36 Legal Cannabis Dispensaries
New York Issues First Licenses to 36 Legal Cannabis Dispensaries, New York Dispensaries, New Jersey Dispensaries, Cannabis Marketing and news WJ Media Group

New York issued its first 36 cannabis dispensary licenses

New York Dispensaries are now set to open sooner than later, with the Cannabis Control Board taking a monumental step in establishing a legal and lucrative marketplace for recreational marijuana.

The licenses approved by the state’s CCB were the first the state plans to issue. Many licenses in the first round were reserved for applicants with past convictions for marijuana offenses. Over 900 applicants were in the application pool, and the board plans to issue 175 licenses.

New York has also planned a $200 million public-private fund. This fund is aimed to aid “social equity” applicants to help redress the ravages of the war on drugs, especially in communities of color.

“Today is a monumental day for New York’s nascent cannabis industry. With the first adult-use retail dispensary licenses in the hands of businesses and eligible nonprofits, we’ve ensured the first sales will be made at dispensaries operated by those impacted by the unjust enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” said Tremaine Wright, the chair of the Cannabis Control Board.

When can we expect New York Dispensaries to Open?

Some of the newly approved New York Dispensaries have expressed a goal to open by the end of the year. A short turnaround time, but these businesses have been preparing since New York voted to legalize Marijuana in March 2021.

The Next Round of New York Dispensaries

A court ruling has delayed the board from approving dispensaries in some parts, amid legal disputes over licensing criteria. Nevertheless, officials said they would issue the remaining licenses as quickly as possible.

With the first licenses now issued, it remained to be seen whether officials would step up their efforts to go after scores of unauthorized dispensaries opened in the past year by people who shrugged at licensing requirements.

What’s next for cannabusinesses…

With these businesses being approved, it is only time that the next ones get approved too. To prepare your cannabusiness for the future, or to improve your cannabusiness and take advantage of this growing market while you have the chance, WJ Media group offers extensive cannabis marketing options. WJ Media group also offers consulting for your business in production, finding a retail location, SEO, Web Development, Social Media Management, and more. We are located in Central New Jersey but have clients all over the country. Feel free to reach out any time to learn more about how we can further your cannabis business.

New York Revises the Cannabis Packaging, Labeling, Marketing, and Advertising Regulations

On November 21, the New York Cannabis Control Board revised the Cannabis packaging, labeling, marketing, and advertising regulations, filing these changes to the state with public comment. This revised, 36-page document outlines a variety of rules protecting against advertising practices that do not “jeopardize public health or safety, promote youth use, or be attractive to individuals under twenty-one.”
The document is extensive so here is a basic breakdown of everything you need to know about New York Cannabis Packaging, Labeling, Marketing, and Advertising Regulations.

Not Marketing to Individuals Under 21

 Labeling, packaging, advertising, and marketing cannot be attractive to individuals under twenty-one, which OCM defines as “pleasing or appealing to persons under the age of twenty-one by using or including, among other things:

  • Cartoons;
  • Bubble-type or other cartoon-like font;
  • Bright colors that are ‘neon’ in appearance
  • Similarities to products or words that refer to products that are commonly associated with or marketed in a manner so as to be attractive to individuals under twenty-one, including but not limited to, any imitation of food, candy, soda, drinks, cookies, or cereal, in labeling, packaging, advertising, or marketing
  • Terms ‘candy’ or ‘candies’ or variants in spelling such as ‘kandy’ or ‘kandeez’
  • Symbols, image, characters, public figures, phrases, toys or games that are commonly used to market products to individuals under the age of twenty-one; or
  • Images of individuals who could reasonably appear to be under the age of twenty-one.”

Cannabis Packaging

The proposed rules set minimum standards for the retail packaging of cannabis products. A retail package shall:

  • be child-resistant
  • be tamper-evident (with respect to a device or process, bearing a seal, a label, or a marking that makes unauthorized access to or tampering with a package, product, or container easily detectable);
  • fully enclose the product, minimize oxygen exposure and prevent the contamination and/or degradation of the cannabis product; and
  • not impart any toxic or deleterious substance onto the cannabis product.

The proposed rules also include packaging prohibitions. A retail package shall not:

  • contain brand elements beyond one brand logo and the brand name (which has size restrictions but can be any font and color as set forth in the proposed rules);
  • contain any pictures, images, or graphics, other than what is required by the Office;
  • contain any features that emit scent or sound;
  • contain any features that change or alter a package’s appearance through technology, other than for anti-counterfeiting purposes;
  • be made attractive to individuals under twenty-one;
  • be made of single-use plastic, unless containing a minimum 25% post-consumer recycled content; and
  • violate any additional requirements as set out by the OCM.

Cannabis Labeling

Like many other states with adult-use cannabis, New York Cannabis Marketing rules impose stringent labeling requirements on all packaging.

Cannabis Label Requirements

First, cannabis products must contain certain information on the principal packaging display panel, which means “the panel of the retail package or the marketing layer that the manufacturer or distributor intends to be displayed at retail.” Principal display panel is a term used by the FDA and usually means the front of the package easily seen by customers. The proposed rules state that the principal packaging display panel “shall have a white background with black text containing the following information:

  • milligrams per single serving of total THC, total CBD content and any other marketed phytocannabinoids, or terpene profile;
  • milligrams per package of total THC;
  • the amount of total THC and any other marketed phytocannabinoids as a percentage of volume, except if the cannabis product is in the form of an edible;
  • number of servings in total for the cannabis product except for cannabis flower and other forms of cannabis for vaporization;
  • weight of cannabis product; and
  • lot number.”

In addition to the panel requirements, the “retail package and any marketing layer shall include the following information:

  • a list of all ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight in the cannabis product – both active and inactive. The ingredient list must include and separately list, in bold, any major allergens
  • Edible products and beverage products will include a nutritional label
  • a list of any solvent used to produce the cannabis product, if applicable;
  • the date of expiration of the unopened cannabis product;
  • use by date;
  • the proper storage conditions;
  • name, address, license number, and contact information of the manufacturer or distributor;
  • any one of the following three universal symbols on the upper left 25% of the marketing layer at a minimum size of 1.25 inch in height for the square symbol, 0.5 inch in width for the vertical symbol, and 0.5 inch in height for the horizontal symbol. The symbol must be made conspicuous by printing the symbol on, or outlining the symbol with, a contrasting color
New York Cannabis Packaging, Labeling, Marketing, Advertising rules and regulations, new, Nov 21, 2022, WJ Media Group Holmdel NJ
  • clear usage instructions;
  • lot unique identifier or lot number or bar code;
  • a scannable bar code or QR code linked to a downloadable certificate of analysis, or linked to a website where the certificate of analysis can be downloaded; and
  • any other information required by the Cannabis Control Board
Cannabis Packaging Warnings

Retail packaging must also contain the following warnings, in bold and in a bright yellow box on the principal packaging display panel:

  • This product contains cannabis and THC;
  • In all capital letters as indicated: “KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. For use only by persons 21 years and older”;
  • Warning: Do not use if pregnant or nursing;
  • National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222;
  • For cannabis products intended to be smoked, inhaled, or vaporized: Warning: Smoking or vaping is hazardous to health;
  • For cannabis products intended to be ingested orally: Warning: Effects of this product may be delayed by 4 or more hours;
  • For all topical products: Warning: For topical use only. Do not eat or smoke; and
  • Any other warning required by the [CCB].

The labeling on retail packaging must be no smaller than 6-point size font and must be clearly written or printed in English (though licensees may include other languages). The labels must be unobstructed and conspicuous.

Cannabis Packaging Content Restrictions

Cannabis Retail packaging shall not display any content or be labeled in any manner that:

  • is made attractive to individuals under twenty-one
  • includes any false or misleading statements including, but not limited to, any health claims;
  • includes the term “organic”;
  • includes the term “craft” unless the processor meets the term as defined [by OCM rule]
  • causes a reasonable consumer confusion as to whether the cannabis product is trademarked, marked or labeled in a manner that violates any federal trademark law or regulation;
  • contains any illustration or content that falsely portrays cannabis or cannabis products as being authorized under [New York’s medical cannabis or hemp program]
  • depicts cannabis, excluding the universal symbol, cannabis products, or paraphernalia
  • promotes overconsumption;
  • promotes price, price reductions, or any other discount or coupon;
  • depicts a child or other person reasonably appearing to be under the age of twenty-one; and
  • violates additional prohibitions as set out by the OCM

Cannabis Marketing and Advertising

  • A licensee shall only advertise by means of television, radio, print, internet, mobile applications, social media, other electronic communication, or other print publication, unless the advertisement is an outdoor sign pursuant to Section 129.4(a) of this Part, if the licensee has reliable evidence that at least 90%, unless otherwise determined by the Office, of the audience for the advertisement is reasonably expected to be twenty-one years of age or older. The burden of proof of the audience composition lies with the licensee.
  • A licensee shall maintain records and documentation to establish that its advertising and marketing meet the requirements of this Part.
  • A licensee may sponsor a charitable, sports, or similar event provided however, a licensee shall not advertise at, or in connection with, such an event unless:
Required Notices and Warnings

A licensee needs to include its name and license number on all advertising and marketing materials. Any cannabis ad must include the following statement (verbally or in writing, depending on the medium):

  • For use only by adults 21 years of age and older. Keep out of reach of children and pets. In case of accidental ingestion or overconsumption, contact the National Poison Control Center hotline 1-800-222-1222 or call 9-1-1. Please consume responsibly.

In addition, any marketing or advertising of cannabis or cannabis products must include one of the following phrases in its entirety in a rotating manner:

  • “Cannabis can be addictive.”;
  • Cannabis can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of cannabis
  • There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product
  • Cannabis is not recommended for use by persons who are pregnant or nursing

All warnings in print or digital advertisements must be displayed :

  • in English
  • in Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial or Helvetica font
  • in text no smaller than size 6 font
  • bolded
  • legible, unobscured, and visible to the consumer, and
  • in a bright yellow text box so as to stand out from the surrounding advertisement.
Prohibitions

No New York Cannabis marketing or advertising of cannabis products shall:

  • use images or audio that may be attractive to minors
  • be in the form of a billboard
  • use or display colloquial references to marijuana and cannabis or use depictions, digital images, or icons of cannabis, cannabis products, paraphernalia, or the imagery of smoking or vaping, including but not limited to “stoner”, “chronic”, “weed”, “pot”, or “sticky buds.”
  • Be false or misleading or contain health claims or representation that use of cannabis has curative or therapeutic effects
  • Promotes over or rapid consumption or promotes potency or THC concentration
  • Falsely portrays adult use cannabis as being medical cannabis or hemp
  • Asserts that cannabis or cannabis products are safer because they are regulated by the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) or OCM.
  • Depict a child or person under 21. Talent portrayed in cannabis advertising should be at least 25 years old.
  • Contain any obscene or indecent statement, design, or representation, picture or illustration
  • Be within or readily observed within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school, recreation center or facility, childcare center, playground, public park, or library.
  • Be on or through handbills passed out in public areas (e.g., parking lots or public owned property)
  • Include medical symbols that indicate the product is a medical product.
  • Sponsor an event using a licensee’s brand, business, or trade name
  • Utilize unsolicited pop-up or banner ads on the internet other than on age-restricted websites for people 21 and over who consent to view cannabis-related material.
  • Produce items for sale or promotional gifts, such as t-shirts or novelty items, bearing a symbol or reference to cannabis
  • Advertise free or promotional items including, gifts, giveaways, discounts, point-based reward systems, customer loyalty programs, coupons, and free or donated cannabis, except for the provision of branded exit packages by a licensee for the benefit of customers after a retail purchase is completed,
  • Or violate any other rules from the CCB

Revisions to New York Cannabis Packaging, Labeling, Marketing, and Advertising Regulations

The CCB revised the original regulations for New York Cannabis Marketing, Advertising, Packaging and Labeling set in June adding new rules and punishments for violation

Some of the new rules include protecting against misuse of the following labels unless the products properly meet their standards

  • Vegan
  • Craft
  • Gluten-Free
  • Organic
  • Kosher
Violations and Penalties
  • A licensee shall immediately remove or discontinue advertisements if the Board determines the marketing or advertising violates the provisions of Cannabis Law and this Part or if the licensee fails to provide records to the Office upon request that establishes the marketing or advertising meets the requirements of Cannabis Law and this Part.
  • In the event a third-party has used a licensee’s trademarks, brands, names, locations, or other distinguishing characteristics in a way that does not comply with this Part or any other statute, rule or regulation, the licensee shall immediately notify the Office and issue a cease-and- desist notification to the third-party, and the licensee may pursue appropriate legal action.
  • The Office may take any action against any licensee who fails to comply with this Part, including but not limited to recommendations to the Board for suspension, cancellation, or revocation of a license, imposition of any fees or fines, requiring a licensee to cease by a date determined by the Office the non-compliant marketing and advertising and requiring removal by a date determined by the Office of any advertisement still being published or displayed, and any other penalties set forth in Cannabis Law and Part 133 of this Title.

Takeaway

New York has an extensive and restrictive list of rules and regulations now in place. It can be difficult to ensure you meet each of their standards, which is why letting WJ Media Group handle your cannabis marketing is the right choice. You should not have to guess if you are safely marketing your cannabis products in New Jersey or New York, instead let us handle it for you, safely and more effectively. WJ Media group also offers consulting for your business in production, finding a retail location, SEO, Web Development, Social Media Management, and more. We are located in Central New Jersey but have clients all over the country. Feel free to reach out any time to learn more about how we can further your cannabis business.

What Does Elon Musk’s Twitter Mean for Marketing your business

Elon Musk, the self-proclaimed Chief Twit, purchased Twitter and immediately started unleashing his changes. It’s hard to tell if 100% of his visions are actually going to hit the site, but there’s a good chance a lot of them do. Here are what some of these changes will mean for you and your business on the platform

Paying for the Check Mark

Musk announced an $8-a-month paid version of Twitter that seemingly just allows you to have the blue check mark next to your username that you see with verified celebrities or companies. It’s unclear if this will be successful or if it will even happen but if it does it might become the norm for your business to have to pay for Twitter. Being a verified account is important to prove you are real to users, so businesses might be forced into purchasing their check marks to keep up on the site.

Changing Algorithms

Musk has expressed a lot of interest in the way the algorithm gets tweets to the user. He’s teased ideas like letting users choose which aspects of the algorithm affect their timelines the most. While this seems like a change that would only impact a niche user base that is interested in the more techy side of the platform, it can also allude to algorithm changes in the future. Cracking the algorithm will be important to get your tweets to users who typically do not get them.

Longer Tweets

While replying to Twitter users’ questions Musk said h absolutely wants to either increase the character limit or remove it on Twitter. He also alluded to other types of posts on the app being updated in this process. Longer articles, longer videos, and new types of sharing can all be coming soon. He wants these longer-form posts to have more priority, so capitalizing early could get your posts to a bigger audience

More Paywalls

Coming along with these longer videos Musk is promising, is the ability to add paywalls to them. This will allow users to add prices such as $1, $2, $5, or $10 payments to view the video. It is probably safe to say avoid this function when marketing your business.

Advertisement Purge

Musk plans to cut the number of advertisements a user sees on their timeline by half. This changes advertising on Twitter a lot for your business. It is likely going to get more expensive to advertise to a large audience, making it less lucrative for your business. On the other hand, with users less exposed to ads, they might interact with the few they see better.

Capitalize Now

It is going to be a full-time job to keep up with Musk’s changes to the site. Running your business is already hard enough, you can benefit a lot by letting someone else market it for you. Contact us at WJ Media Group for web design, social media marketing, SEO, and more.

Web Design Trends to Get ahead of in 2023

Keeping your website updated and fresh is one of the best ways to get new customers and get your previous customers to keep coming back. You cannot go wrong with some of the tried and true basics in Web-Design, but adding some new and trending elements to your site will help you stand out from the competition. Here are some of the web design trends we expect to explode in 2023.

Art Deco Themed Sites

Art Deco relies on ornamental, symmetrical, and geometrical shapes. Creating an easy-to-look-at, patterned and decorative site can help reduce visual stress and create visual interest in your site. Adding subtle Art Deco elements to your site can help you stand out in 2023.

Micro-Animations

Micro-Animations have already started to appear all over sites, and now is the best time to add some to your page. It is a perfect time to capitalize on this trend and learn from the mistakes others have made. A Micro-Animation should add an organic and interesting element to your page, yet not distract too much. Something like this moving background on “SmashMallow’s” site is interesting and welcoming.

You can also utilize micro-animations on eCommerce sites. Opting to use a small video showcasing your product instead of the typical set of pictures can help you stand out.

Text-Only Hero Design

For years the landing pages of sites have utilized pictures in the hero, with text typically on-top of the picture. In 2023, we can see this trend finally coming to an end, opting to instead take a page out of newspaper design with a big, bold headline on the front of your page. Remove that Hero picture, and change it to a bold color with some bolder text on top.

Negative Space

Instead of cramming as much information as possible on a page, utilizing pictures and text with ample negative space in between can create a sleek, refined look. If you want your site to look modern and advanced, negative space can be your friend in 2023.

Organic Shapes

2020 had geometric shapes; 2023 will have organic shapes. Using fluid shapes with no straight lines is on the rise. Natural-looking, winding, and asymetrical shapes are easy to look at and can break up your site without having to use harsh lines.

Interactivity

Give your users a reason to stay on your site and stay engaged. For example, Polls, surveys, contests, and quizzes are interesting and fun ways to keep a user engaged with your site.

Now is the time to capitalize on Web-design trends in 2023. If you want to create a sleek and modern site in 2023, look no further than WJ Media Group. WJ Media Group is a full-service digital marketing agency in NJ that specializes in Web Development, SEO, Advertising, and Social Media Management. If you want to take your business to the next level, you can find out more about us here.

Tips for Marketing Cannabis on TikTok and Instagram

Social Media as the gateway Into the Niche Cannabis Market

Cannabis-related radio and television ads are currently prohibited by the FCC, email marketing campaigns take careful curation and dedicated writers, and SEO is an extremely powerful but long-term solution to getting your business attention. That leaves social media as the next best tool to getting your business out quickly and to the right people.

Social media is not an easy world to navigate, here are some tips for marketing cannabis on TikTok and Instagram

Getting Around the Algorithm

Unfortunately, META and TikTok have strict restrictions on cannabis-related accounts and content. That being said, it does not mean it is impossible to get your account traction on these platforms.

Using Proper Hashtags and Algo-Speak

META and TikTok have bans on popular cannabis-related hashtags and terms like  “cannabis”, “weed”, “420”, and “stoner”. Using these could spell disaster for your business as it puts a target on you to be banned. Instead, you have to find browsable workarounds like “#budtender” which have yet to catch the attention of META or TikTok.

Using Proper Slang, and Visuals

You cannot even type “weed” let alone show weed flowers on TikTok. Instagram is sometimes more lenient with cannabis pictures but could take down photos and accounts for no known reason. So how do you get around TikTok and Instagram’s harsh restrictions?

Some creators opt for using community-known and accepted slang and visuals to get around the bans. In videos or educational posts, creators will choose to show broccoli or herbs in place real cannabis flowers.

When putting captions and titles on videos and posts, instead of typing “weed”, creators might choose to put a leaf and smoke emoji.

Prepare for Bans

The most important thing you can learn is that social media is unpredictable. Administrators can choose to remove posts or content and even ban your account for posts you might see other accounts doing. The best thing for you to do is create backup accounts in case anything happens to your main one. Make sure to have activity on backup accounts to get users to come to the new page if the main one gets banned.

Ensure you follow social media platform’s terms of service as best you can to prevent your account from being targeted.

Move your audience off the platforms

With how unpredictable these platforms can be, the best thing you can do is make your audience take action elsewhere off of these platforms. Incentivize your audience to sign-up for newsletters, email campaigns, and follow your other social media accounts to make sure you do not lose them if you lose an account. Social media is not your product, it is a tool to get prospective customers to your products.

Hiring WJ Media Group For Your Cannabis Marketing

Hire professionals here at WJ Media Group. We are currently working with numerous cannabis companies, building their websites, and social media presence, and further boosting their SEO and web presence. We provide a secure and trusted service, contact us hereVisit our cannabis marketing page.

SEO Tips for Cannabis Websites & E-Commerce Stores

Build in-depth Product Pages

Your product pages are the most important pages on your e-commerce website.

In order to rank your product pages well. They will need a number of upgrades that will help rank them better in search engines.

Step 1: Write Long Form Product Descriptions

Just like category pages, the product pages should have long-form content about each product that is unique. Ideally, it is over 1,000 words.

Longer content is proven to rank higher in search engines and it’s no different for product descriptions.

Step 2: Add Product Videos

Videos of your products on your product page have multiple positive results that will help:

  • Increase conversion rates
  • Build trust
  • Increase SEO

Whether you add videos of people using your product, how to use your product, feature highlights or simply user testimonial videos, they will help increase your product’s conversion rate and rank your product pages better in search engines.

Bonus Tip: Add your product videos to Vimeo/Youtube and add a link back to your product page from the video description for a free backlink and easy access to your product page!

Step 3: Get Product Reviews on Your Website

Obviously, you are going to have a hard time getting sales or ranking your product pages when your product has no reviews.

In this day in age, people look towards reviews to decide whether or not they want to buy a certain product.

Getting as many reviews as possible on your products will help build social authority, trust, and of course, increase conversion rates!

Having product reviews will also help your product pages rank better in search engines. When you have product reviews and rich snippets (we will talk about them later) your star reviews will show up in Google SERPs which will make your listing stand out and increase the number of people clicking to your site, which is good for SEO.

Create Relevant Educational/Blog Content

As I mentioned before, writing long-form content can be great for ranking your e-commerce category pages and product pages, but you can also build other types of content to generate more traffic to your store.

But before writing any blog posts or articles, you first want to do some research as to what people are searching for.

We can use a tool like Ahrefs and search for our main keyword or service. So let’s go to the content explorer and search CBD. We can then sort by organic traffic to get ideas of the content we could write that gets traffic.

Now we know that an article written around this topic could get 230,000 visitors a month so this would be a great content idea to build.

Make sure your content is focused on your product and answers popular questions people may have about your industry or product.

Here are some other types of content you can build to generate backlinks and traffic:

  • Educational Articles
  • In-Depth Product Reviews
  • Comparison Guides
  • Top Lists

Optimized Internal Linking

Building links to an e-commerce store can be more difficult than other websites so internal linking is very important to pass any link juice throughout your entire e-commerce site.

This is why it’s a good idea to add links to your products in the content throughout your website. Happen to mention your product in a blog post? Add a text link directly to the product page.

The easier it is for your users and Google crawlers to navigate your website, the better your pages will rank.

Build a Google My Business for Local SEO

Whether you are doing local SEO or national SEO, Google My Business is a powerful tool to generate more business online, for free.

Google My Business is Google’s management system for Maps locations and local results.

Hiring WJ Media Group For Your Cannabis Marketing

Hire professionals here at WJ Media Group. We are currently working with numerous cannabis companies, building their websites, and social media presence, and further boosting their SEO and web presence. We provide a secure and trusted service, contact us here. Visit our cannabis marketing page.